Submitted by Wayne Root on Friday, March 31, 2017 at 12:00 PM
You regular readers know I can’t post official selections here in my web articles. That wouldn’t be fair to my paying customers. But, I would like to outline the possibilities for either of the two West Coast teams to win their national semifinals Saturday…and then maybe even be crowned 2017 National Champions on Monday night.
GONZAGA obviously has the best chance to win two games this weekend. They’re the biggest favorite on Saturday in their matchup against Cinderella South Carolina. If both favorites win Saturday, Gonzaga would be a short underdog to North Carolina. (Oregon isn’t a short dog to Carolina! And the Ducks would be a dog to Gonzaga). This unit is definitely playing like a team of destiny. The players feel like it’s their job to push the program all the way to the top of the mountain. They’re proudly representing themselves, their coach, their community, and everyone who’s worn the Gonzaga jersey through the years.
The problem is…they probably aren’t as good as they think they are. There were fortunate to survive a down-to-the-wire game with West Virginia. They couldn’t shake Northwestern until the final moments despite building a big early lead. They were fortunate to draw Xavier in the Elite Eight round in a letdown spot off Arizona. Gonzaga isn’t consistently playing like a #1 caliber seed. They’re occasionally playing that well. Can they maintain greatness for 80 minutes?
At least they catch South Carolina in a potential letdown spot. The Gamecocks weren’t supposed to get this far, and may have trouble playing at such a high level for a fifth game in a row. Combine Gonzaga’s excellent inside defense with South Carolina’s “due to fall back to earth” factor, and it at least gives the Zags a shot to advance to Monday and rewrite the history books.
OREGON has the advantage of not dealing with any pressure. They weren’t supposed to get this far. They’re playing with house money after knocking off Kansas in Kansas City last weekend. That and a Pac 12 crowd in Glendale, AZ might be enough to make the Ducks a very live underdog. And, there’s no way this team is going to be afraid of North Carolina after what they pulled off last weekend.
The issue with Oregon is that the injury to Boucher is most likely to matter now that they’re playing a team with a lot of size…and a team with a lot of depth. Oregon can’t afford any foul trouble because they’re shorthanded. They’ve run into the tournament team most likely to get you into foul trouble! I would look for this smartly coached, deliberate team to try to control pace so they can be there at the end. Will they pull it off?
West Coast basketball has a lot to be proud of this season even if Gonzaga and Oregon fall short. The media greatly overrated the ACC this season. It’s time more fans and pundits realized the high quality of basketball being played in this part of the country.
Time is running out for me to make my final decisions. By the time you read this, I probably will have already locked in my major selections for Final Four Saturday. Again, no hints here! I am THE KING OF UPSETS, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for me to make a stand on South Carolina (+) or Oregon (+) (or BOTH!). But, my stellar record in this year’s event features both underdogs and favorites. Gonzaga was one of the most profitable favorites in ages this season. North Carolina wins big when things are clicking. Don’t assume it’s automatically underdogs for WAYNE ALLYN ROOT this weekend!
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